Salzburg radiates considerable charm and beauty. Not only during the Advent season - but especially when the city center smells of sweet doughnuts and Jagatee, when Christmas songs resound through the alleyways and when everywhere and everything is festively decorated. That when the old town really shines. Mozart raved about this city and UNESCO acknowledged the value of the multi-towered old town with its splendid monuments by declaring it a world cultural heritage site in 1997.

Please board the train, the train leaves! From Zurich, you can reach the Mozart city of Salzburg comfortably and rested in a good 5 hours. Already at the entrance to the main station, I get a first glimpse of the historic old town, which is nestled between the fortress, Kapuziner and Mönchsberg mountains. The colourful facades of the houses, the innumerable church towers and the fortress that sits enthroned above everything want to be explored in the next two days. 

Just a quarter of an hour later and after crossing the Salzach, I am standing in the heart of Salzburg and in front of Mozart's historic birthplace. Here the child prodigy grew up and practiced his first compositions on the violin under the guidance of his father Leopold. For 17 years Wolfgang Amadeus lived together with his parents and his sister Nannerl in the middle of the old town before the family moved to the other side of the river. A small tip and worth considering is the purchase of the Salzburg Card. Once purchased, you can freely visit all museums and cultural monuments, use public transport and ultimately save a lot of money. 

The "Getreidegasse" slowly fills up with tourists in front of the entrance to the birthplace. Thanks to the protection of historical monuments, the main shopping street, like all other alleyways, was able to retain its charm. Even the largest hamburger chain in the world had to bow to the Salzburgers and adapt its sign in accordance with the rules. Fortunately! 

A few steps further on I treat myself to a mulled wine at the small but fine market "Sternadvent" before I take the Mönchsberg lift up to the top. Here lies Salzburg at one's feet - with a spectacular panorama free of charge. Since 2004, the museum of Modern has also been located on the Mönchsberg, which inspires with interesting temporary exhibitions on classical modernism, art since the end of the Second World War and the present.

The Hohensalzburg Fortress can be easily walked through in less than half an hour and always in an elevated position. The fortress, built in the 11th century, is one of the largest castles in Europe with a built-up area of over 7,000 m². And with over a million visitors a year, it is the most frequently visited sight in Austria outside Vienna. Here, too, a romantic Advent market in the Burghof invites you to linger. 

With the fortress train it goes rapidly and in only 54 seconds again down into the old part of town, past the large, golden ball "Sphaera", an object from the art project series of 2007, 95 market huts wait for me on the cathedral and residence place. What began as a simple "Tandlmarkt" in front of Salzburg Cathedral developed into one of the most famous Advent markets in Europe in the 17th century. Finally, 45 years ago, the former Nikolaimarkt became today's Salzburg Christmas Market in its unmistakable form. From local customs to traditional decorations for the Christmas tree, gifts for young and old, incense for the contemplative time to all kinds of culinary delights in the form of Austrian specialities, mulled wine and punch: here you will find everything your heart desires. So I try a Bosna, a hearty sausage invention from Salzburg, accompanied by a local beer. Wonderful! After a few rounds on the nearby Christkindl skating rink, these calories are burned again in no time.

Time flies by; it dawns and the thousands and thousands of lights shine even more in all the countless eyes of children. In front of the cathedral, choirs and tower wind players take turns singing and playing harmonious Christmas songs. Did you know that the lyrics to the song "Silent Night" were written by Joseph Moor from Salzburg in 1816? Two years later Franz Xavier Gruber composed the melody and helped the song to world fame, which is sung by two billion people every year on Christmas Eve.  

Salzburg Cathedral is also world-famous, with its first Romanesque building dating back to 774. Despite five fires and a world war bomb - the sacral building has lost nothing of its beauty to this day - on the contrary. Countless treasures have to be discovered: The baptismal font of W. A. Mozart, the crypt, the choir gallery and the five organs. For an intimate view of the main organ, the largest pipe of which is 8 metres long, I recommend a tour of the cathedral quarter. The representative former offices and residences of the Salzburg rulers today form the heart of the Salzburg museum landscape. Several collections, the staterooms and, as a precious curiosity, the Panoramamuseum (Panorama Museum), reflect on the history of art. The path also leads past the main organ and offers a view of the cathedral ship from above. For dinner I chose a very special place - the Stiftskulinarium StPeter. Despite its old age, Europe's oldest inn - 1200 years old - is not a musty, gloomy shed with a traditional diet full of calories, but a contemporary gourmet restaurant with a unique ambience and exhilarating dinner concerts, where Mozart is served in top quality between courses.   

Day 2 is a bit more comfortable. On a morning stroll to the Capuchin monastery and its hill I get a view from the opposite side of the old town. For literature enthusiasts: Not far away is the Stefan-Zweig-Villa, where the author lived for 15 years and wrote 200'000 manuscript pages. At the foot of the Kapuzinerberg, a visit to the Mozart residence is a must. From 1773 to 1780 Wolfgang Amadeus wrote symphonies, serenades, piano and violin concertos, a bassoon concerto, arias, masses and other church music in this house. 

Not far from this place steeped in music history, I treat myself to a cup of coffee at the Hotel Sacher and, of course, a piece of the world-famous Original Sachertorte. Speaking of original: Did you know that the Original Mozartkugeln are only the blue-silvery wrapped balls of the Konditorei Fürst, invented in 1890. And always a nice souvenir.
If you still have some time left: 5km outside the city and an hour's walk away, Hellbrunn Castle with its famous Advent market is a tempting destination during the Advent season. Between 700 fir trees decorated with red balls, you can discover arts and crafts, a children's Christmas world and handmade cribs.

In the evenings you are spoilt for choice - not only when choosing a rustic tavern - but also at countless events, especially at Christmas time, making it difficult to decide:  Advent singing in the Festspielhaus, contemporary circus art on the occasion of the Winter Festival in the Volksgarten, modern sounds at the Dialogue Festival in the Mozarteum or a classical concert in the beautiful marble hall of Mirabell castle. What is certain is that the gem seduces Salzburg and has addictive potential. I will come again. Who knows, maybe soon, when the world-famous Salzburg Festival takes place in summer.   

To properly prepare for your trip

How you get there:
by train SBB/ÖBB via Buchs SG and Innsbruck

How long should I go:

Best travel time:
all year round, especially beautiful during the Advent season

Birthplace Mozart, Christmas market, cathedral, fortress, 
Visit of a classical concert

Advent Tips:

Restaurant tip:

More info:​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


Realised by Michael Bachmann
Further travel pictures under​​​​​​​